Review by Sandy Wisneski, Common Sense Education | Updated October 2019
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HOMER Reading: Learn to Read

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Interactive app engages beginning readers of diverse learning styles

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts
  • English-Language Learning

  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Teachers say (1 Review)

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Pros: High-interest stories and activities have embedded, personalized step-by-step lessons.

Cons: Emphasis mainly on alphabet and phonics with little attention to comprehension.

Bottom Line: Top-notch phonics program effectively balances and guides students through stories, activities, and games.

HOMER: Learn to Read can be an excellent self-guided phonics experience for kids with a wide range of prereading and early reading skill levels. For students needing practice in phonics, turn to My Pathway, which offers scaffolded lessons that include interactive practice and voice recordings. To encourage reading, check out Discover the World, which offers beautifully illustrated stories from numerous genres. The read-aloud stories would work great individually or as a large group, since topics cover a wide spectrum from history to science. Enrichment activities continue with "brain games," encompassing activities that develop memory, matching, and sequencing skills. Each section asks kids to interact with speaking, drawing, or making selections.  

There's also a full library of printables available for each lesson. Coloring pages and activity/lesson books for every reading level include more phonetics, vocabulary building, and handwriting practice.

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HOMER Reading: Learn to Read is an early literacy app for kids age 2 to 8 that incorporates drawing, voice recording, stories, and songs, along with more traditional phonics lessons. A beautiful map on the main screen presents all of the options kids can explore: Learn to Read, Art, Songs and Rhyme, Story Time, Discover the World, First Readers, and Brain Games. Clear verbal instructions guide kids in all areas. In Learn to Read, kids tap and listen to a lesson, play activities, and review before moving on to the next lesson. In Discover the World, kids tap on a bright photo to select a subject within the categories of science, art, history, and literature. Story Time houses book options in genres from humorous to classics. Kids choose "read-to-me" or "I'll read it." Interactive choices include Brain Games, with a large selection of enrichment activities, and Art, where kids can create their own drawings. Up to four kids can have individual user accounts on one app, and teachers and parents can view the progress of each kid aligned with their account. HOMER is an excellent beginning reading resource, and take note that a subscription (after a free trial) includes access to HOMER Stories: Kids Library. Also take note that subscriptions are free for teachers.

HOMER is an outstanding way to get students excited about reading. The systematic phonics lessons can help kids learn letter sounds, letter (capital and lowercase) and word recognition, critical thinking while reading, and reading comprehension. By reading or listening to the stories, kids can also learn about animals, historic figures, world cultures, music, and other topics relevant to their lives. Interesting content about frogs, world music, fiction, poetry, and songs engages students while building reading fluency.  As kids make voice recordings and draw pictures, they are learning digital creation skills while applying their knowledge. The app includes plenty of positive feedback ("Hooray and happy day!" and "Wiggly ears cheers!") but it can feel a bit over-the-top after a while. With so much content, kids will have something new to read, listen to, or try for months.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Homer's colorful map guides students to a variety of quality lessons, books, songs, and interactive games.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Creative expression is an integral part of the experience. Personalized phonics lessons and rich stories strategically guide students through beginning reading activities.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

There are clear verbal instructions throughout lessons and activities.  Adults can get reports on each kid's progress.  Additional parent/teacher information is available.

Common Sense Reviewer
Sandy Wisneski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

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Featured review by
Amy R. , Media specialist/librarian
Media specialist/librarian
Mountain Valley Middle School
Mexico, United States
Free app reads to students, teaches phonics, and encourages them to create based on what they've learned.
I have used Learn with Homer with my most important students: my own children, ages 2 and 6. I think it is a great app to suggest to parents of kiddos ages 2-8. Students take a photo of themselves and select a "thinking cap" for their avatar. The more levels they complete, the more thinking caps they earn. More than one student account can be made on each app. Activities include word and sound sorts, listening to poems read aloud, and creating drawings and sound recordings based on their learning ...
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